A Belgian FEGGA Student in Sweden
FEGGA Scholarship Programme
In the past 10 years I’ve had the privilege to gain experience in several positions in turfgrass management. From greenkeeper to head greenkeeper and field manager. So why start “studying” again?
For starters I’ve never stopped studying in the first place. I’ve followed several online and offline courses, took part in seminars and meetings and read many books. Of course that was all in my spare time. Here in Sweden we’re talking about working and learning every day from one of the top guys in our profession and that’s an important difference. Being part of top team on a daily basis on a high end course provides a ton of information and experience. This way I can improve my greenkeeping skills while also gaining insight on how the courses are run. The focus of the program is on course management and they are completely open about the things they do here. On top of all this, there are seminars and excursions to complete the package.
Meet the team
The top guy I was speaking about is Bevan Tattersall from England. He worked his way up at The Belfry to course manager and was there during the Ryder Cups of 1993 (as greenkeeper) and 2002 (golf course manager). When I think of all the big names that fought their battles on “his” greens (Ballesteros, Faldo, Woods,…), it’s hard to realise this man wants to teach us everything about greenkeeping he knows. In 2005 Bevan moved with his family to Sweden to become course manager at Barsebäck Golf & Country Club (Solheim Cup 2003), which was in the running for the Ryder Cup. Unfortunately for him the Ryder Cup didn’t come to Sweden, but he’s still got over 40 professional tournaments in total on his record. Finally, in 2018 the new owners of Kristianstads Golfklubb convinced him to move to the other side of Sweden and that’s where we are today.
The team Bevan has assembled consists of 2 young head greenkeepers: his eldest son Ben(jamin) on the West Course and Niklas Johansson on the East Course. There are 7 full time greenkeepers in total that work during the entire year. Because the courses in Sweden close during winter there’s a lot less work to be done. The full time greenkeepers work less hours during winter and more in the growing season. To get all that work done once the grass starts growing, the team expands with another 10 to 15 seasonal greenkeepers in spring. No luxury if they want to fulfil the high expectations of the club…
The club consists of two golf courses: the East Course is the championship course and was ranked 3rd by Golf Digest in 2020 out of over 480 Swedish golf courses. The golf club was founded in 1924 but moved in 1938 to it’s current location in Åhus, a coastal village 20 km south of Kristianstad. The last renovation was finished in 2016 and was carried out with the help of the architects Pierre Fulke (Ryder Cup 2002) and other former professional golfer Adam Mednickson.
The same duo signed for the renovation that’s currently in progress on the West Course. The first holes of this course were originally added to the golf club in 1980. It is seen as more accessible and suitable for all levels of play. The renewed course will open again on July 1st and it’s expected this will be a top-20 course in Sweden as well. For us, the FEGGA-students, it’s very interesting to participate in the final parts of construction and to finish the the grow-in. Given the high expectations we will be putting a lot of work into this in the coming time.
“You haven’t seen any snow mould until you get to Sweden.” – Bevan Tattersall
Beginning of March, about a month before our arrival, heavy snowfall came over Åhus. This triggered a large attack of snow mould, especially on the greens of the East Course. Chemical control is very limited in Sweden and is sparsely used. In this case it was necessary on the old greens, that mainly consist of Poa annua, to not lose them completely. Our first weeks on the course revolved around the recovery of the greens. Mechanical treatments included overseeding Agrostis stolonifera with a spikerseeder and light applications of sand. After this the damaged spots got spiked and overseeded manually as well. Seaweed and other biostimulants are used to speed up recovery some more. All we need now is some higher temperature but up here that’s easier said than done.
Apart from some exceptions, we’ve barely reached 5° in our first few weeks. We’ve had frost almost every morning since our arrival. Not what you want when you need a speedy recovery of the greens. The greenkeepers are only allowed on the course when all frost is gone. And if the greenkeepers have to wait to get started, the time the course opens changes as well. This is decided by the course manager, who has a direct line with the reception desk. If a golfer booked a tee time at 8:00 and the course opens at 8:30 due to frost, the 8:00 tee time is cancelled. This way they try to keep the pressure off of the greenkeepers and make sure quality comes before quantity… and greenfees.
The past few days it’s getting warmer and the expectations are that the grass growth will increase soon. We are looking forward to get the course in the coming month to it’s top level. We’ve also got some interesting seminars on course construction and fertilisers coming up. This has been a long introduction already so I’ll wrap it up for now. Only thing left for me is to send you warm greetings from a cold country and hej så länge!
Michel Van Uffelen was head greenkeeper at Golfclub Beveren and Koksijde Golf in Belgium. In the past four years he was responsible for the pitch of the Belgian national stadium and several professional football clubs. Since April he works and studies in Sweden through the FEGGA scholarship programme.
CAPILLARY BUNKER LINING SYSTEM INSTALLED AT RYDER CUP HOST COURSE MARCO SIMONE
Although the Covid-19 pandemic means it will have to wait another year until it hosts the Ryder Cup, preparation of the Marco Simone course in Rome continue apace. All eighteen holes of the new-look course, designed by European Golf Design, opened for member and guest play earlier this month. And Dave Sampson, of European Golf Design, says the course’s bunkers, which have been built using the Capillary Bunkers lining system, are performing particularly well.
“The first nine holes – actually the back nine of the course – started construction in August 2018, and were all grassed by the end of summer 2019,” says Sampson. “A couple of major storm events set those holes back a little, but they were all in play last summer. The second phase construction started in autumn 2019 and finished during summer 2020. Phase three, the practice greens, is currently being finished, though architect Sampson, prevented from visiting the site by the pandemic, has been approving the works via drone footage. The course is planned to make its public bow this September when it plays host to the European Tour’s Italian Open.
Sampson says: “We have been in daily contact with the guys from contractor SOL Golf who have been on site, so finishing the final greens remotely has been OK. Nothing of the original course has been retained – every hole except for the sixth plays in a new corridor.”
He adds that the choice of Capillary Bunkers as a liner was an easy one. “I have had really good success with Capillary on previous projects, including the Evian resort in France and Crans-sur-Sierre in Switzerland,” he explains. “Evian and Marco Simone have quite a lot in common, in terms of weather patterns, so it was a pretty good model. The amount of maintenance time post storms is minimal compared to what it was before.”
Designing a course for a Ryder Cup is rather different to building a normal course, Sampson says: “On a normal project, you’d be looking for the best eighteen holes, pure and simple. Here, you’re looking for the best eighteen holes that can deal with 50,000 spectators. So the routing is quite challenging, but that said, there are not long walks between greens and tees. This is a 27-hole project, so the extra nine gives us space for the range, the spectator village and the like. And you need to build the course to be extra resilient in terms of weather – there isn’t a lot of extra daylight to play with given the time of year a Ryder Cup is played, so the course needs to be playable quickly even in the event of severe weather. That’s one of the benefits of using a liner like Capillary Bunkers.”
Acelepryn Emergency Authorisation for chafer grubs
An Emergency Authorisation for the use of the Syngenta insecticide, Acelepryn, to target chafer grubs has been granted for the 2021 season.
This season, the initial chafer grub specific authorisation permits use of Acelepryn on affected greens, tees and fairways, along with horse race courses and airfields. The sale of Acelepryn for chafer grub permitted up to 4 August 2021, with the treatment period up until 31 August.
A further Emergency Authorisation has also been submitted by ICL on behalf of the turf industry for the treatment of leatherjacket infestations later in the season. The regulatory authorisation system only permits a 120-day use period, which requires a separate submission for leatherjackets to target later application at peak pest timing.
Chafer grubs and leatherjackets cause damage to turf through extensive feeding on roots, which can be severe in localised patches. Surface stability where grubs have chewed through turf roots is of hugely significant concern for race courses.
Furthermore, extreme damage can occur in all turf surfaces when badgers, birds and other foragers root through turf in search of the grubs.
The Emergency Authorisation permits Acelepryn use in situations where there is an acknowledged instance of economic damage, or risk of bird strike on airfields, and where the product has been recommended by a BASIS qualified agronomist.
Acelepryn users will be able to submit online stewardship records of areas treated, linked from the ICL website.
”Over recent seasons the economic damage from chafer grubs and leatherjackets has been of major and increasing concern,” reported Syngenta Technical Manager, Glenn Kirby. “Obtaining this Emergency Authorisation of Acelepryn enables us to manage the most damaging effects of these soil pests as part of an integrated turf management programme.”
Further replicated trials are underway on golf courses and fine turf surfaces to refine the Acelepryn application timing to optimise turf pest control.
Glenn advocates the best results have been achieved with applications at the peak flight of egg laying adults, to be in the soil zone to catch early feeding larvae. “It’s crucial to use higher water volumes, using the white O8 XC Nozzle to target the spray through to the soil surface,” he advised. “Irrigation will help to move the spray into the target zone.”
The authorised label permits application at the rate of 0.6 litres per hectare, applied in 500-1000 l/ha water.
Acelepryn will be available for purchase from the beginning of May this year, to give opportunity to prepare for the onset of primary chafer beetle flights, from mid to late May.
An on-line turf pest ID guide, to aid the identification of adult stages of key target soil pests and target application timing, is now available on the Syngenta GreenCast website. The allied Pest Tracker on-line reporting system is also building a picture of pest activity across the UK and Ireland, to focus issues and better aid application timing.
For further information on best use guidelines where chafer grubs and leatherjackets have caused economically damaging effects contact an ICL Area Manager or BASIS agronomist
BIGGA announces Volunteer Support Team to assist Royal St George’s greenkeepers for duration of the 149th Open Championship
The return of The Open Championship this July will see BIGGA members from all over the United Kingdom leap into action once again as the BIGGA Volunteer Support Team takes responsibility for ensuring the Royal St George’s bunkers are in top condition for the world’s best golfers.
Following the rescheduling of the 149th Open Championship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BIGGA is delighted that the R&A has requested the assistance of its members in the staging of the event. Members who were selected for the postponed championship in 2020 have been invited to participate this year and are now looking forward to another incredible week of championship golf.
This will be the fourth time a volunteer team of BIGGA members has assisted at an Open Championship at Royal St George’s, having also taken part in 1993, 2003 and 2011. The bunkers at Royal St George’s Golf Club are among the most famous in golf, with the giant ‘Himalaya’ on the 4th hole providing an intimidating test, not just for the golfers who land in the hazard, but also the members of the support team who will recreate its condition afterwards.
Every full BIGGA member is eligible to apply for a place on the support team and those who are selected are given unprecedented access to golf’s greatest championship, supporting every match with bunker raking duties.
BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton said: “A place on the Open Support Team is one of the most exciting opportunities we offer our members and I’m delighted that after such a dark year we were able to extend the invite to those members who missed out in 2020 due to the postponement of the championship. The Open remains for me the world’s greatest golf tournament, we’re thrilled to be able to support the R&A in its staging and everyone at BIGGA is looking forward to giving our all and playing our part in ensuring the 149th Open is Royal St George’s best yet.”
The BIGGA Volunteer Open Support Team are provided with accommodation, subsistence and uniform for the event. Members of the support team may also be called upon to assist Course Manager Paul Larsen and his team with early morning preparation work and other duties during the week. Restrictions are expected to be in place as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and any necessary adjustments to working practices will be made clear to BIGGA members ahead of the championship.
The 149th Open tales place from 15 to 18 July 2021. Applications for the BIGGA Volunteer Support Team for the 150th Open Championship at St Andrews will open later this year.
Here are the BIGGA members who will be assisting the home greenkeepers for the duration of the event:
Robert Acheson, Thonock Park; David Ball, Thetford; James Bonfield, The Hertfordshire; Tom Bromfield, Trentham; Mark Cleverley, Kings Norton; Jason Connaughton, Yeovil; Daryn Curtis, Royal Mid-Surrey; Joe Curtis, Gloucester; James Dawson, Alwoodley; Julian Drake, Neath; Nicholas Edwards, The Wisley; Michael Elderfield, Sandy Lodge; Sam Evans, North Hants; Edoardo Fauro, Walton Heath; Ryan Fiander, Lees Hall; Craig Gibson, Essendon; James Hampson, Llanymynech; Craig Hempseed, Mortonhall; Kevin Hensman, Rowlands Castle; Alastair Hollingsbee, Etchinghill; James Hook, The Bristol; Dale Housden, Drayton Park; Adam King, Radley; Antony Kirwan, Romford; Chris Low, Olton; Matthew Mackenzie, Ellesborough; Jorge Manso Grandio, Royal Wimbledon; Steven Mapes, Coventry; Michael Mead, Littlehampton; Peter Meek, Bath; William Merritt, Blundells Hill; Ashley Millar, Churston; Harry Misselbrook, Harewood Downs; Ryan Neale, Blackwell; Joshua Raper, Golf Club Hösel Ev; Laura Sayer-Hall, Ardfin; Tom Silcock, Macclesfield; Nick Street, Crews Hill; Will Simmonds, Surbiton; Niels Sorensen, Randers Golf Klub; Ollie Tanton, Royal North Devon; Amy Thomas, Barton-on-Sea; Scott Thomson, Wetherby; Gary Tonge, Castle Stuart; Ken Ward, Harrogate; Jeremy Ward, Rotherham; Sam Wood, Lingdale.
View the latest FEGGA Greenkeeper Scholarship Programme Webinar
Many thanks to Gary Smith, agronomist for the STRI for his excellent Presentation delivered on the 12th April 2021 via zoom.
You can view the recorded presentation by clicking on the enclosed link. Please remember to view the entire video, you will have to download on to your chosen device.
Adapting to Change with Positive Outcomes
Like all organisations FEGGA have during these challenging times had to adapt and change many of its structures and how it works with its Association Members and Partners. In February of this year, we would normally have been holding our Annual Conference where we would bring all our Associations and Partners together, and this year it should have been in Germany.
Instead, the focus was still to deliver elements of the FEGGA Conference, but to deliver the content via a virtual programme. FEGGA’s mission is to “bring people and organisations together”, and the feedback we have received has been very positive in us being able to deliver on our mission.
During a 10-day period, we staged 6 webinars, including our official AGM and also a very valuable meeting with our Patrons.
The main focus of FEGGA is to create platforms for associations to come together, create opportunities to discuss and share their experiences. This then leads to Associations becoming more proficient in their management of their own organisations to the benefit of their own respected members.
At our first webinar event we focussed on an important subject “Mental Health”. This is a subject that is touching all areas of our lives at the moment, and we do know that Greenkeepers and for that matter many people working within golf are suffering from mental health issues. The idea behind the webinar was for Associations to share their own experiences, and if they were able to offer any support to their members. It was very clear that very few Associations were able to offer any support, but actually many would like too, but struggled to know where to start. BIGGA were the only Association that had set-up any form of support mechanism to help their members, and the result of this was that a Facebook page had been created “Greenkeepers Mental Health” and was providing meaningful support that was helping many greenkeepers throughout the UK. FEGGA are now going to follow this up with some other forms of support that might help individual Associations to manage these very challenging situations. This along with other FEGGA webinars were recorded and can be found by visiting the FEGGA website.
Our second webinar aimed at Associations and Patrons focused on FEGGA Updates. This provided updates on the R&A GolfCourse 2030 initiative, now being rolled out into many Countries within Europe. FEGGA also touched on its Pioneering Research initiative, which is very important in developing good collaborative research in helping Golf meet the challenges of the next 20 years plus.
As part of our FEGGA Conference Series programme, we introduced a new element of our webinar delivery, this was to deliver some education to individual greenkeepers. Many associations had to cancel their face-to-face educational events, and many were not able to run education through webinars. FEGGA decided to organise and run 2 educational webinar sessions. These focused on General Greenkeeping and Personal Development and were received with positive outcomes. 250 people participated in the 4 hours of education delivered during both days. We were supported with delivering this education from some of the leading expert professionals working in our industry. Both these sessions were videoed and can be viewed again by visiting our website; www.fegga.org
During the 10 days of the Conference Series programme FEGGA had some 550 people join us online and participated in the many areas of further development that will benefit Greenkeeper Associations, and their respected members. To find out more about FEGGA and its work, visit our website or our FEGGA Facebook page.